NEA Jazz in the Schools
takes a step-by-step journey through the history of jazz, integrating that story with the sweep of American social, economic, and political developments. This multi-media curriculum is designed to be as useful to high school history and social studies teachers as it is to music teachers. Start with the introductory video
to get a feel for the place. The education outline contains five lessons
. If you just want to listen, all the music samples
are on one page. Perhaps you're more interested in individual artist biographies
, or a jazz history timeline
These lessons are designed as units; five units serve as a week-long curriculum.
NEW ORLEANS: MELTING POT OF SOUND
— Jazz grew out of the African-American community at the turn of the 20th century, a time when blacks were being denied their most basic rights. The music has since become a part of every American’s birthright, a timeless symbol of American individualism and ingenuity, American democracy and inclusiveness. The birthplace of jazz is New Orleans, the most cosmopolitan city in the South.
THE JAZZ AGE AND CHICAGO
— In the 1920s, jazz spread rapidly all across America. The rise of jazz was part of a new, post–World War I optimism, a prevailing sense that something new was happening, that America was finally breaking from European culture and coming into its own. Novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald called the new era the Jazz Age.
FROM SWING TO BOP
— With the decline in popularity of swing bands and the rise of singers as pop stars, many jazz musicians in the mid-1940s retreated to smaller groups of five or six instruments that were easier to organize, were cheaper to book in clubs, and provided more freedom for individual musicians to express themselves.
— The 1960s are virtually synonymous with social and political upheaval in America, and with a popular culture nourished by intrepid experimentation and a rejection of traditional symbols of authority. Of course, in the world of jazz, musicians had already been responding to—and carrying out—upheavals in American society for some time.
AN AMERICAN STORY
— Jazz is the purest expression of the American spirit—innovative, independent, and, ultimately, revolutionary. The history of jazz is inextricably linked with the political, geographic, and cultural history of America, and to understand the evolution of this music is to grasp the passion and genuine humanity at the heart of American democracy.